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October 28, 2018
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Bringing govt down not difficult: Zardari

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October 28, 2018

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LAHORE: The former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said toppling of the (federal) government is not difficult. They wanted to give the new government time to deliver, but it seems now they would have to become active.

He was talking to the media after addressing a convention of People’s Lawyers Forum, following his arrival in Lahore on a four-day visit, on Saturday. He rejected claims of government ministers that he asked for any ‘NRO’ (National Reconciliation Ordinance) like secret deal. “I never asked for an ‘NRO’ even from dictator Musharraf; then why would I ask for one from the incumbent rulers,” he added. 

Zardari said the ‘NRO’ announced at that time was president Musharraf’s choice, and not his own. He said he had been facing politically motivated cases in the past and it could happen again. He condemned the arrests of his close aides and targeting of their industrial units in Sindh by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). 

He alleged that his friends are being targeted only because the government wanted to arrest him. He claimed that the real issue was not that of some alleged fake trading accounts but the 18th Amendment, which the ruling establishment wanted to scrap. However, he added, its reversal or scrapping would not be possible even if he wanted so, as provinces would not agree on it. He said Punjab being the largest province is the biggest beneficiary of national funds distribution under the 18th Amendment.

Zardari said the PTI government is behaving worse than the military dictatorships, and asked the government to display some sense and decency. He warned what the PTI is sowing today would have to be reaped by it tomorrow. When asked about his arrest, the former president said his arrest would not be anything new. “I spent five years in custody during Gen Musharraf rule. I am not afraid of going to jail.” He said “there was a blue eyed of the establishment in the past, and there is a blue-eyed again here. The previous one would not understand anything, and the present one is not ready to listen.” He said he never tried to become a blue-eyed of the establishment.

Zardari said his party was not interested in toppling the PTI government, adding he felt that it would create more problems for himself and his party. He, however, said efforts were under way to overthrow the PPP government in Sindh. He said that in the garb of NAB investigations, the industrial units of his friends are being targeted even before elections. He recalled that he phoned a friend about the situation of crops, the next day that friend was arrested.

Zardari said his friends are being victimised by dubbing their business accounts as ‘benamidar and fake’ only to pressurise him. To a question, he said he was not sure if he could meet Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, adding that if Mian Sahib would come to the opposition parties APC, he would surely meet him.

He said he would attend the APC, called by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He said it was the PPP government which provided rights to the people of Balochistan and also gave identity to the Pakhtuns in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and remarked that the incumbent government was devoid of this approach of satisfying people.

Asked if Nawaz Sharif and he had become indispensable for each other under the given situation, he replied that neither he needed Nawaz Sharif nor Nawaz Sharif needed him. Both have their own political parties and standing. The former president expressed ignorance when asked to comment on the alleged arrival of an Israeli jet in Pakistan, but did not rule out the possibility of its being true.

The PPP co-chairperson also appreciated growing friendship of Pakistan with Saudi Arabia and China and said, the PPP, particularly Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, shared the role in strengthening bonds of friendship with both these countries.

He expressed pleasure over the bailout package from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. Saudi Arabia has always helped us. He would not have objection to the bailout if burden on the poor was reduced by it. He said they are close friends of Pakistan, who always wished good for Islamabad.

About Saudi Arabia, he said, Pakistan ties with Riyadh were not only deeply friendly but also based on mutual benefits in the historic perspective.

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